Skip to main content

3 Practical Tips to Stick to Your Fitness Goals and Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

The holiday season is around the corner, and with it, sweet temptations. Halloween is all about candy; Thanksgiving brings the savory, comforting dishes; and let's not forget about the iconic Christmas cookies! My sweet tooth is twinging just thinking about all the delectable treats. While food is a major part of the holiday season, it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your fitness goals to enjoy yourself. Nor do you need to add another source of stress to the mounting list the holidays tend to bring.

Now is not the time to throw your fitness goals out the window. In fact, I would argue that focusing on your fitness is more important than ever during the holiday season. Elle Woods said it best in Legally Blonde:

"Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy."

Physical activity will help you deal with the stress of the holiday season, and with the people who make good tidings and cheer a personality trait. Planning ahead will help you stick to your ultimate goals while enjoying the season.

The following are practical actions I take during the holidays to keep my figure and prevent unwanted weight gain.

1. Get Your Priorities Straight

The number one complaint, or excuse, I hear from family and friends concerning why they can't lose weight is, "I don't have time to exercise. My life is too busy." This is especially true around the holiday season. I, myself, have used this excuse to get out of doing things or attending events that don't sound like fun. All I want to do is sit in my house with my plants and drink coffee. It's a simple aspiration, but it's my idea of a perfect life.

So, how do you pull more time out of thin air? You can't. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day. It all comes down to prioritizing the time you already have.

For me, fitness is a priority. Exercise is a must-do activity on my to-do list, and I've built it into my daily routine. During vacations and the holiday season, I plan ahead to make sure I get some type of physical activity. Mostly, that means getting up earlier than everyone else, so I can have a quick yoga practice and complete a few simple exercises before getting ready for the day. I know going in it's not going to look like my normal routine, and that's okay. My goal is to simply get the blood moving and do something. Something is always better than nothing in my book.

The tip? Prioritize your workout and get it in early. Sure, getting up early isn't always fun, but you'll be more awake and feel much better for your day after a little movement.

Prioritize your goals.

Prioritize your goals.

2. Plan For Indulgences

Sugar is my kryptonite. If I could be granted a superpower, I would choose being able to eat as many sweet treats as my heart delighted without consequences. Does anyone have a genie's lamp I could borrow?

In all seriousness, though, for most of my life, I struggled with finding a balance of being able to eat treats without derailing progress toward my fitness goals. A few years ago, I came across a Michelle McDaniel YouTube video and decided to take responsibility for myself. I made the choice to stick with tracking my calories and immediately downloaded the MyFitnessPal app. I had failed in my past attempts, but this time was different because I was determined to finally reach my goals. The rest is history: I stuck with it and saw the weight drop off.

Three years later, I'm still going strong and have maintained my progress. Part of that is due to discipline. When it comes to sweet treats, I limit myself to one per day. This is now a habit that helps during the holiday season. During October, I keep a variety of candy out on the counter in a cute Jack-O-Lantern bowl. Late October into November, I have candy corn displayed. Baking cookies with my son is one of my favorite activities during Christmas time, too. I indulge, guilt-free, and still maintain my progress by limiting myself to one treat.

When it's time to attend parties and events, I plan ahead. I know I'm going to want to hit the dessert bar, especially if grandma is making her famous sugar cookies. I make sure that I stick with my routine leading up to the event, indulge during the event, and then I get right back on track the next day. I don't need to sample everything on the dessert table, instead opting for one or two treats. I don't worry about counting calories during the event. Again, I stick with my routine leading up to the event, and immediately get back to my routine right after.

If there is more than one event I need to attend in a week, I don't overindulge. I pick one treat or share treats with a family member or friend. I treat meals the same way, choosing only two or three sides in reasonable portions.

The tip? You don't have to go overboard at holiday events. Pick a few foods and treats you truly want to try and enjoy yourself. Stick with your routine leading up to the event and most importantly, get back on your routine the next day.

Plan your indulgences.

Plan your indulgences.

3. Stay Hydrated and Limit Alcohol

At any given point on any day, I have at least two drinks near me. One is caffeinated, the other is water. Keeping a mug or bottle filled with water is a habit I've cultivated over the years. After being sick several years ago, I started taking a mug of water with me to bed as well. This is how I make staying hydrated convenient and easy.

Alcohol has never been an issue for me. I steer clear of it the majority of the time simply because I don't want the added calories and I know I'll be working out the next day. I want to be burning fat, not acetate. Rarely will I accept a glass of wine. When I do, I limit myself to one glass.

The tip? Drink your water, which you already know you need to do. If you're tired of plain water, add fruit or MIO to spice it up. Pay attention to how much alcohol you're consuming, too. It's full of empty calories, and when you're buzzed, you're more likely to overindulge in other treats.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Alyssa